THE FITNESS PRIORITY BY KRISTIN MCNEALUS, PT, DPT
Don’t beat yourself up if you cheat! But cutting back is a great start.
Soda is still the second most consumed beverage to water in the United States and it is making us unhealthier by the year. It is time that you make healthy habits for your children, and lead by example. Stop drinking soda. Let’s look at what it does to the body:
Soda’s high sugar content wears the enamel of the teeth and leads to an increased risk for cavities. The pancreas rapidly creates insulin in response to the sugar consumption (which happens even with diet soda!) Insulin is a hormone the body uses to move sugar into the bloodstream, where cells are then able to use sugar for energy. Blood sugar levels spike and the liver responds by turning sugar into fat for storage.
Soda contains phosphoric acid, which interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium and can lead to osteoporosis, cavities and bone softening. Phosphoric Acid also interacts with stomach acid, slowing digestion and blocking nutrient absorption.
Diet soda is not healthier. The sugar substitutes have been linked to almost a hundred different health problems including seizures, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, diabetes, and emotional disorders. Diet sodas also increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, which causes belly fat, high blood sugar and raised cholesterol.
When you have a crash from the sugar high, the body will crave more sweets. Researchers from Harvard have determined that soda consumption is directly related to an increased risk and incidence of obesity.
All of this is true for “sports drinks,” “energy drinks,” and most juices!
Children who consume these sugary drinks regularly have an 80% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and are likely to grow into adults who drink these beverages regularly. Studies have shown that adults who were regular soda drinkers growing up had greater prevalence of kidney problems, reproductive issues, osteoporosis, asthma, and bad teeth with dissolved tooth enamel.
Are you still thinking about drinking any drink in a fancy bottle over water? Or don’t know what to serve at your child’s birthday party? Try sparkling water, and add a small amount of real fruit juice to sweeten it up, or squeeze a citric fruit into it. If you must find a way to replace the caffeine, iced tea or hot tea is a great no calorie substitute! I personally like to ice green tea.
Next, there is the habit. Do you have a ritual associated with getting your soda? Or is the container part of the habit? Figure it out and replace it. Most important, try to drink more water. If you don’t have the chance to feel thirsty, you will lessen your craving for soda. Do not keep it in the house.
Don’t beat yourself up if you cheat! But cutting back is a great start. •
THE FITNESS PRIORITY
Kristin McNealus, PT, DPT, ATP received her Masters in Physical Therapy from Boston University then went on to earn her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from MGH Institute of Health Professions. She has been a staff physical therapist on inpatient rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries at a number of hospitals in Southern California, as well as Director of a community adaptive gym for people with neurological injuries. She is a member of the International Network Spinal Cord Injury Physiotherapists, and has contributed to the APTA Guidelines for Exercising with a SCI. She has completed 3 marathons, and 25 triathlons, including the Ironman! SCI Total Fitness is designed to promote health and wellness for people with physical disabilities.